Short and Sweet

480207_994948528191_541236135_n copyWe just got back from spending Mother’s Day with Amanda in Grand Rapids (picture: freezing at the Holland Tulip Parade). She’s our only “escapee” with the others in Florida, so it was a very special time with her. Sweet.

Right before we left we had appointments with the oncologist and orthopedic doctors. I signed the papers to begin chemo. A few tests need to be done 5/24 in preparation. Chemo will be 2 weeks on/1 week off for 3-4 months. I’ll let you know the dates when they are finalized. The orthopedic saw some healing near the plate, but not on the other side. Bottom line: still cannot walk on it — which was “fun” during the flights! Short version.

Sweet is the grace of the Lord during this time. Hugs. Memories. Time together. Gifts from all my children. Time to reflect on my own mother and her gifts to me. His goodness supersedes all the challenges. His presence provides all our needs.

Checking In

nonameIt’s been a peaceful couple of weeks, and I’ve really enjoyed it. With surgeries and struggles, it’s been nice to lay everything down.

And I realize that this is probably the quiet before the storm. Next week Wednesday is my oncologist appointment with tests and probably the schedule for treatment. Next week Friday is my orthopedic appointment to find out if the surgery worked. Needless to say, I’m somewhere between excited and anxious.

I’ll let you know via this blog the outcome. But in the meantime, I’ll enjoy the flowers and the cool breeze. I remember that Jesus talked about the Holy Spirit as wind that “blows where it wishes, and you hear it’s sound, but you do not know where it comes or where it goes.” (John 3:8) I pray that his Spirit will fill me right now and in the days to come.

I’d love to have you “check-in” with me so that I can be praying for you — leave a comment!

 

Authority and Perspective

nonameIt’s been over a week since I posted. I haven’t been in a very reflective mood — more in a “figure out how to do life with a broken leg” mood. Therefore, action has trumped reflection.

But I did go to the doctor and was able to ask him more directly what happened after he put me asleep to make him change the course of the surgery.

Simply, he talked to Dr. Cole. Dr. Cole is a world renown orthopedic doctor and the head of the practice. They had consulted earlier and affirmed the use of protein, but I guess the question stirred more within Dr. Cole. He did more research and told my doctor right before surgery that research did not support the use of protein with Multiple Myeloma patients.

I understand authority. If my boss asked me to not send an email, I would not send it, so I finally understood the “who” of the change, and could understand it.

But I still struggled with the research. My personal experience tells me that protein works with my stubborn bones. Research studies of thousands says it may not be good for those multiple myeloma. What do you go with — the individual or the average of thousands? Obviously, they made the call from their perspective.

I can’t help think of my relationship with God. There are times when it feels as if he changes his mind. I’m headed one direction in faith obedience and (whoops!) get turned around. It’s usually confusing. Until I spend time with him and understand the “who” (God), it’s hard to reconcile it in my heart.

Even then, I may struggle with the “but” questions. I think I know best. I think I should be an exception. But his ways are not my ways. It’s because he has another perspective.

I read this a few days ago from a blog of a writer (http://skimhenson.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/making-a-choice-when-plans-change/)

My first reaction when life spins out of my control is to figure out a way – my way – to make things right again. But I’m learning to keep my hands off of circumstances beyond my control. To pray. To act – or wait. And if waiting is what is needed, to believe that God is working to change me and to change anyone else involved.

Life will sometimes go according to my plans – and sometimes it won’t. And I choose to believe that God’s involved with both – rather than assuming I’m on my own when my plans are derailed. Just because I’m surprised by what happened doesn’t mean God is.”

I’ve been at peace, waiting on my leg to heal. We should know more May 10th. May 8th is my oncologist appointment. In the meantime, I rest in the arms of God. No doctor can mess up his will. He’s not surprised.

I’d love to hear your perspective —

Unexpected

noname-1Unexpected…that was the word that I used in my last post about the surgery, and has been the word I’ve been mulling over the last week. So many things in life are unexpected, and when they are good, we embrace them with giggles of joy.

But when they aren’t good? That’s a different story…

Being faithful in your marriage to unexpectedly find out that your spouse was not.

Loving and raising a child who announces they don’t want to have anything to do with you.

Going into surgery for a procedure you did not get…

Yes, it happened. The doctor for months assured me that if they did surgery, it would include a bone graft with protein. The papers I signed Tuesday said bone graft with protein. The procedure explained to me by the nurse was a bone graft with protein. The doctor immediately before surgery said the word protein. Then Roger and I prayed that God would give the doctor wisdom and I peacefully went to sleep.

When I awoke, I found out they did not use protein. This is no small deal – you may remember that I had 5 surgeries on my wrist and it did not heal until they used protein. I hand carried the surgical records to the new doctor so that he would know exactly what kind of protein they used. I told him he had only one shot at this, that I was not going through 5 surgeries again. In fact, if he had said he was not going to use protein, we would not have approved the surgery.

What happened? What happened between my going to sleep and waking up to change his mind? He said he was concerned that the protein might excite my cancer. Didn’t he know that before I went under? What changed?

I wanted to be furious, but realized that it would not do any good. The surgery was over. It was too late. What’s done is done. I did my part the best I could. I had no control.

I want to have faith that my leg will heal, protein or no protein. I want to believe that while I was unconscious with no control, God was in control. He is able to have his will, even if I don’t understand it.

So I’ve been thinking about others who have gone through the “unexpected.” They did their part the best they could. They were faithful. They loved their spouse, their child.  They loved God. Something happened of which they had no control. It was far from what they expected.

And, like me, they had to resolve what was unexpected. There was nothing they could do. The spouse left and their heart shattered. The child rebuffed attempts to communicate. They have no control.

So, like me, they are trying to have faith, not in what they can control, but in a God who controls all. They know the story is not ended, just twisted. Amid tears, they cling to a loving God.

Right now, my heart cries with the hearts of those who are dealing with the unexpected. I’m praying that through this, we will all see Jesus in a different light, and that our faith will grow deeper. I pray for healing, in our lives and in the lives for others. And I resolve, as I hope other resolve, to continue to be faithful in responding to God’s leading, and leave the results – expected and unexpected – up to Him.

What has been unexpected in your life? What can I pray for you?

 

 

Home after surgery

I’m home again after the surgery on my leg. It did not go as expected (long story) but I choose to believe that it went as the Lord willed. Roger and I prayed right before the surgery that the doctor would have wisdom. He decided right before the surgery to not use the protein in the bone graft for fear that it might promote the cancer. We’re disappointed since it was the protein that made the difference when my arm was a non-union, but we know that God can heal — protein or no protein.

We’d love prayer on several fronts:

  • That I would be wise in what to do and what not to do. Anyone that knows me well knows I love to “do.” Pray that I will give my body time to rest and heal.
  • That Roger would know how to minister to me. I’m so independent and we’re used to each one of us carrying our own weight. Pray he will know how to lean into me and into others in a way that is not only loving, but meet needs.
  • That God’s love and grace will be evident to others in the midst of our challenges and that we will be able to be faithful in personal and ministry commitments.

Good News — Jason (our son-in-law) and Jacob (grandson) are getting baptized this Sunday! I’m going to try to get out to the beach to be part of our small group’s pot-luck and the celebration service. I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be!

New Beginnings

nonameEaster is a wonderful time of the year — a time of gathering family and friends and worshipping a Savior who defeats the grave. It puts life into perspective.

We have some good news. Wednesday, April 3, I’m having surgery on my leg. Now, to most people, surgery is not good news. But to me, it’s opening the possibility of new beginnings.

They will go into my ankle area through a small cut in the back of my heel (last time it was two 4-5 inch slices on either side of the ankle with a 3 inch tear crosswise where bone was exposed). They will “rough it up” so that my body sees it as a new injury it needs to heal and then they will pack it with bone graft taken from my knee and a protein to encourage healing. This creates new hope.

It’s it interesting how when you let the surgeon address an issue, it’s much easier than trying to recover from a traumatic event? When I injured it myself by getting into circumstances beyond my control, it was a mess — 6 days in the hospital, 2 surgeries, plates and screws and a fear of bone infection. This time the surgeon is able to use the plates and screws already in place in a clean environment so that it is an “in-and-out” procedure.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like life? We can do it “our way” which often means God has to do major surgery to put us back together again. Or we can let him do it in his time and in his way – much less painful! If we can read his word and obey, it’s much less painful than having to ask forgiveness and seek healing. However, when our ways do get us into trouble, God builds on the foundation laid to (hopefully) make future surgeries less traumatizing. We just need to cooperate.

Pray with me that this surgery will work and my leg will heal. The oncologist has indicated that I have 6 weeks or so before we would need to begin treating the cancer. With this surgery, I have renewed hope that we can get this process going, and renewed hope that I will see the Lord in the midst of it.

Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed! 

What can we be praying for you about? Where do you need new beginnings?

I’m a “Guest Blogger!”

2011-5-22 Great WallI’m a “guest blogger,” although I have to admit I hardly know what that means! I sent an email to a friend about blogging and she put it on her blog — so I guess it means writing on someone else’s blog or having them re-post what you wrote. Anyway, if you are into blogging, check it out at: http://equipping4eministry.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/maggies-advice-for-beginning-bloggers/

Let me know If you think I’m on track with what I wrote in “comments.”

Believing God Knows Best

James-boys on rideI don’t usually suggest another blog, but Sharon Jaynes is one I follow, and her posting today was better than anything I could write. It is found at: http://sharonjaynes.com/

It’s a reminder of who God is, that life contains suffering along with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. She quotes James Dobson, “Trying to analyze His [God’s] omnipotence is like an amoeba attempting to comprehend the behavior of man.”

Today we had another “twist and turn” that has left my head spinning like the tea cup ride at Disney. Roger is out of town on a ministry trip, so we don’t have much ability to process emotions or information. I feel like that amoeba trying to wrap my head around things being said by doctors filtered through the mind of Christ.

Pray for clarity…

And that I don’t throw up while I am on this wild ride. He is the engineer of the ride and is sitting next to me. I don’t know if I can be like James (in the picture) and raise my hands in pure joy of the process, but pray we will have enough trust in the Maker that our hearts are calm.

Twists and Turns

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 Life is an adventure.

For some reason, we think in terms of straight line, from where we are to where we want to be. Life defies that. I believe twists and turns are a part of God’s plan in growing us up into his image.

You may know my cancer (multiple myeloma) raised it’s ugly head again 2 weeks ago. It’s complicated because I have a broken leg (compound Tibia & Fibula fractures) that have not been healing (non-union).

Life has been difficult.

The oncologist wanted to wait a month to start chemo so that the orthopedic doctor could do the surgery he has talked about for 2 months. When I went to the orthopedic doctor, he changed is approach to quality of life and backed away from surgery.

Now I’m stuck in what feels like a holding pattern.  Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like to feel stuck, trapped in circumstances.  I’m an action oriented person. I was really disappointed after the orthopedic appointment. I was up for the challenge. I needed something to do to — either attack the cancer or fix the leg.

God knows I don’t like feeling stuck.

That’s why he met me in the stillness of the morning. He reminded me of the road near our cabin, how it twists and turns. As you walk, you know you are headed towards the top, but you can’t see it. Sometimes you are actually walking downhill before you can walk uphill again.

I realized that I’m not stuck, the path just turned and that somewhere in God’s plans, there are reasons for the turn. There were things that I could attack (medical tests, physical therapy) and I could explore different options (get a second opinion). I smiled and started walking.

Why do I think the path from A to B is a straight line?

Where do you feel “stuck?” What could you do to become “unstuck?” Let me know in the Comments —

Statistics

Less face it, there is fear when we face a new challenge. And my experience is not without fear.

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I have Multiple Myeloma. 7 years ago, it exploded on my life. 17 years ago I had been diagnosed with Monoclonal Gammopathy, it’s precursor. So I have been living with this in one way or another for a long time and have learned several things:

Statistics are scary.

You know it’s not good when you are searching Google and come up with obituaries. I no longer search, but Roger sometimes does and filters them to me. I have always known this was not a good kind of cancer to have, if there can a be “good” kind of cancer to have. It is considered “incurable” which means you can beat it back, but never get rid of it. It always comes back.

I have a choice. I can give into the fear or lean into the Lord. I can fight emotionally or rest spiritually. I can focus on statistics, the truth of this world, or focus on faith in the truth of eternity.

Statistics reflect unique opportunities.

Somehow I have been “blessed” with MM. Statistically, it hits African-Americans males the most, then Caucasian males, then African-American females, and then Caucasian females – the lowest group.

So I do view this as a unique blessing. God chose me despite statistics. I feel it is a part of His plan in my life and in the lives of those around me. And who would want to emotionally or spiritually fight a blessing?

Statistics reveal grace.

Even with less energy and more pain, I am humbled and amazed by what God does in and through me. The lives I have touched, the ministry processes I have help put into place, the experiences I have had with children and grandchildren — I could go on and on! God’s grace runs through me like yarn in a knitted blanket, covering us over and over and lasting beyond me. How can I fight grace?

Statistics can be scary, but they do reveal opportunity and grace.

I’d love to hear from you, either a comment or question. And I wonder, what statistics scare you? How do you handle it?